Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Quite surprised by wikipedia today. Recently I created a page about Global Guerrilla theorist, John Robb, which people keep trying to delete because it's claimed I haven't succeeded in demonstrating that he's "significant".

Now, I thought the whole point of Wikipedia as an "organic" encyclopedia is that it lets articles "grow" through the accretion of multiple edits. When I created the page I didn't have time to create a full explanation of the subject, but I hoped that others would "swarm on the target" and add their own contributions to build it up into a worth-while resource.

It seems that something like this "significance" criteria works against that possibility. If, when you create an article you're going to have to demonstrate to any random reviewer who wanders past that the subject is "significant" you can't really plant a seed for others to cultivate. You have to come with a fully formed article. Doesn't that defeat the whole point of the thing?

I guess they're trying to stop wikipedia being full of useless vanity pages like a kind of less multi-media MySpace. But this itself is interesting. In a democratic, bottom-up, self-organized phenomenon what exactly is the purpose of "significant"? Is wikipedia running out of shelf-space? Will Google fail to be able to find the good pages among all the crap? Does the wikipedia community feel it needs to become a "gate-keeper" after all? Perhaps it has to follow Shirky's Iron-Law of becoming more conservative to protect the interests of the early-arriving, more-invested, inner-elite.

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